I read the Nation article about which Joseph Knippenberg blogged. His characterization of it is wrong. Most of what it says is accurate, although it, like Knippenberg, misses the point. The issue in the founding was not the status of religion but the status of revealed religion or religion beyond the bounds of reason. It is undeniable, I think, that the Founding was at best neutral to revealed religion. Religion as subordinate to the needs of politics, what Knippenberg’s snippet from the Farewell Address discusses, was fine with the Founders but that is religion within the bounds of reason. It was not revealed religion, which is always some particular religion. Anyone is free to follow particular religions, according to the Founding, but none has any political authority. Madison in fact wanted lots of sects, as he called them, so that they would counteract one another. As a historical and political fact, the Founders’ understanding of religion turned out to be wrong. This is not my opinion but that of John Quincy Adams, who, unlike the Founders he knew personally, was an orthodox Christian.